Kalyn Ponga has won the Dally M Award after the Newcastle Knights star beat Shaun Johnson to the top prize following a stunning season.
Ponga pipped New Zealand Warriors star Johnson to football’s most prestigious individual award with six points in the final round of the season, taking his tally to 56.
The Knights star was at the heart of his side’s brilliant run at the end of the season, during which he took Newcastle to the final.
Before the ceremony, his mother Adine wasn’t too optimistic about her son’s chances, as he was close to winning, but he triumphed at the Sydney party.
Reflecting on the 2023 season, Ponga said: “It was pretty special. This is something we want to replicate next year.
“I’ve been at the club for five years now and it’s something I’ve never experienced before. It’s something the city wants and needs. As a group of players we know that and we want to start again.
“Definitely proud. Proud of the team, Proud of what the team has achieved on the back end. We want to go further, we are definitely happy.
The interviewer asked Adine before the ceremony: “Do you think he has a chance of winning tonight?” Optimistic?’
“Ooo,” she replied before looking at her son and shaking her head. ‘No. I will be proud no matter what.